USPS Continues to Decline in Importance in the Eyes of the American Public

Matt Swain
Dec 8, 2011

InfoTrends announced publication of a study entitled The Emergence of Digital Mailbox Services this week, which looks at a new secure digital delivery channel that we expect will become an important channel for paperless delivery of transactional mail. This does not bode well for the USPS in its current form, unless it finds a way to participate in this market. Based on an extensive analysis of surveys with over 1,500 consumers; 300 businesses across 8 vertical markets; and in-depth interviews with more than 25 leading service bureaus, billers, financial institutions, and digital mailbox service providers, InfoTrends estimates that digital mailbox services will deliver 2 billion paperless transactional documents to U.S. consumers in 2015–representing 7% of all transaction documents, 19% of all paperless delivery, and $323 million in transaction document delivery fees alone.

The scary truth from our research is that consumers and businesses expect the importance of the U.S. Postal Service to decline dramatically over the next 10 years… and this data was collected before recent news about slower delivery. We asked consumers, “relative to your lifestyle, how would you rate the value of the USPS today, in 5 years, and in 10 years?” As shown in the Figure below, only 42% of consumers expect the USPS to be important or vital to them in 10 years.

Business response was similar, with 23% expecting the USPS to be vital, 48% expecting it to be useful, and 29% anticipating that it will not be necessary in 10 years. A logical move for the USPS is to find ways to play a role in the digital delivery of documents, but it is quite possibly the most handcuffed organization found in the United States. While it tries to streamline operations, increase postage rates, and push the boundaries of the market it exists to serve, companies like doxo, Manilla, Volly, and Zumbox are taking advantage of gaps in the USPS delivery portfolio. Last month, the Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC) at the USPS Office of Inspector General published a report that proposed that the Postal Service launch two new services to support this market, an “eMailbox” and an “eLockbox.” The eMailbox would serve as the USPS version of a digital mailbox, and the eLockbox would be a sub-folder designed for secure long-term archiving. If the USPS took this approach, or launched a similar independent service, its relevance would wholly depend on how fast it was to market. The digital mailbox market is evolving so quickly that the USPS must soon make a decision about whether or not to enter with its own offering.

One thing is clear—if it continues on its current path, the USPS is going to become increasingly irrelevant to the American public, for whom its mission is to provide trusted universal postal services.

Click here for more information on our recent study, The Emergence of Digital Mailbox Services.

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